To ditch my job because life is too fucking short?

(120 Posts)
ReallyOverThis Thu 28-Nov-13 14:46:44

Regular poster, have NC for this. In a very small nutshell - I have a pretty fancy job which pays exceptionally well. Got a major promotion earlier this year (yes, boo hoo for me. Feel free to ditch thread now).

I really enjoyed about 50% of the job pre-promotion. I now only enjoy about 30% of it. I have never been cut out for certain aspects of the job, but I was in the past able to balance my failings in those sides of it by excelling in other areas. Now the expectations in all areas are about 200% higher and I have been told I really need to "up my game" if I am to achieve what's expected. It's not that they've misrepresented the promoted job to me - I knew in theory what it involved - but the practice is way harder than I anticipated. I could probably do the game upping but it would be seriously hard work and time consuming (e.g. having a week's holiday without full attention to Blackberry every day is just Not On, required to do weekly evening dinners with clients). Pressure is relentless. I am starting to think that I simply can't be arsed.

To give some context my Mum died a few months ago. Dad had died several years previously. Both died young. Neither is here to be disappointed in me if I ditch it (or proud of me if I succeed). I just turned 40. I am financially fine because I inherited a property and a small lump sum, plus I have my own savings. I don't have expensive tastes. In the last 3 years I've gained a fab fiance who is my rock. He's always known me as a high-flyer and is proud of me for that. He earns plenty money of his own and we have no children.

I feel my identity is very tied up in my job. When I do well in it I feel very validated and glad to have a good brain. Ditching it now would mean wasting many many years of study and slog and obviously mean giving up a lot of potential earnings.

This is not so much an AIBU because the answer is obviously "Do what's right for you" but more of a "Did you do it and do you regret it?"

Thanks for reading.

thompson369 Sun 01-Dec-13 08:06:47

I think you should definitely make a change. I'm in a similar position and about to reduce my hours to part-time, primarily for more time with the kids but also, like you, after striving for years to reach a certain point I've realised I don't really want to do that role!

raisah Sun 01-Dec-13 03:10:05

If you have 200k plus in savings, can you buy a small house to let & use the rent as monthly income while you take a years sabbatical. It will give you breathing space while being a long term investment for you.

Alanna1 Sat 30-Nov-13 14:51:49

Too many views to all read.

My advice is try and make the job what YOU want. If you are otherwise serious about leaving, you have nothing to lose really (& anyway its pretty tough to fire someone for working adequately and not checking blackberry in holiday and you'd probably settle out of tribunal anyway).

You could also set a very positive role for others in your firm.

I would set boundaries. Firm times that you are contactable outside of those and/or on holiday. Choose the clients you agree to dinner with. Choose the number of evenings. I've found clients quite like breakfast over dinner.... They have families etc. say no. Leave the blackberry in the office at the weekend - if someone needs to speak to you, they have to telephone.

WinoHamster Sat 30-Nov-13 13:29:50

OP - I could have written your post. Newly made up, late 30s partner but hate the pressure, long hours. I'm sick of being the strong independent advisor, then getting home (eventually!) and crying to DH.

I'm not surprised you're going through a tough spell with your parents etc - I'm grateful I don't have that to deal with and I'm really sorry you do. Have you spoken to your firm about it? I think the biggest thing I'm missing at the minute is support - and my tactic has been to speak to my senior partner and stating, if you get me a paralegal and a good secretary, they can take a lot of the day to day pressure off, and my billing will increase (god forbid should this fall....!), and giving you more time to generate additional work for other team members. I don't know what practice area you are, but you could even look at working from home a day a fortnight or something?

It makes me wonder that we've had 10 plus years of intense pressure, working towards this 'partner' chalice and we feel like the pressure should drop, because 'we've made it'? When reality is, the pressure is worse (and in my case, fellow partners are now pushing for equity - I just can't be arsed).

My next tactic without a doubt will be to get pregnant and have a year off!!

Apatite1 Sat 30-Nov-13 09:41:33

The only happy lawyers I know are the ones who work in an a combination of:

1. Supportive environment

2. Part time

3. Small regional firm

They don't earn a lot of money, but are much more satisfied in life. Those earning oodles are depressed, divorced, strangers to their family. Your sorry makes me sad. Please, please quit if you can financially manage it. My husband sees a lot of seriously depressed and burnt out lawyers as patients.

minionmadness Sat 30-Nov-13 09:16:45

I'm in the "life's too short" camp too.

7 years ago I was living for work, 70 hours plus a week and never really seeing DH. Sure we had a great lifestyle in regards to holidays etc but I was longing for children, but with 4 failed IVF's behind me never thought it would happen.

Facing a 5th IVF treatment, whilst trying to juggle the pressures of my career I just decided something had to give and it was the career.

I gave notice, we sold the big house and bought a smaller one outright. I concentrated on looking after myself and getting myself ready for the next IVF, which was successful and our twin sons were born a year after we moved into the our new home. They are 5 now BTW and I haven't worked since.

Our lives are very different now, but I am very happy with my lot and looking back I wasn't happy, I thought I was but not really.

Material things don't comfort you in old age, but memories can.

DoctorTwo Sat 30-Nov-13 08:57:12
ReallyOverThis Sat 30-Nov-13 08:36:39

paxtecum no, not the Middle East - Singapore or Switzerland. Know both well and could happily live in either, though Switzerland harder for work as I have no interest in financial services and don't speak German.

ReallyOverThis Sat 30-Nov-13 08:33:20

Thanks SG. Funnily enough when I was unsure about going for partnership as I felt it was too much of a long term commitment, DP pointed out that the best in house jobs go to ex-partners. I actually did work in house for 3 years and I left because my now partners (whose client I was) told me I needed to be more ambitious....looking back now I was quite happy in that role but maybe did need to push myself a bit further for a few years.

Problem is that I'm not a corporate lawyer or a commercial generalist so wouldn't be suited to a lot of senior in house roles.

SuiGeneris Sat 30-Nov-13 08:14:00

Ok, now have read more of the thread and I am right, you are a newly-made up partner in a law firm.

If you enjoy management (and clearly aren't too bad at law either) think v seriously about going in-house. In the right roles the work is much more interesting, the hours much better and the pay as good as or better than a salaried partner at a good firm. You also get to do a lot of management and commercial advice and outsource the boring bits. As an ex partner you would probably aim for a GC role, which would give you much more control over your life than now.

Also look at in-house non-legal Rolex where your skills and knowledge would be valued: Compliance, Audit, Public Policy, Government Relations. I know ex lawyers from Magic Circle or equivalent foreign firms who are successful in all of those roles.

Be v careful about training and PSLing: in many firms I know you would be everybody's dogsbody and job security and pay would be much worse than equivalent in-house roles.

paxtecum Sat 30-Nov-13 08:13:21

OP: YADNBU in your financial situation.

Is the other country somewhere you would like to live?
Hopefully it's not the M East.

Presuming your DP hasn't got a mean streak, then it is an attractive option.

Best wishes to you both.

SuiGeneris Sat 30-Nov-13 08:00:35

OP: I can have a fairly good guess at what you do from the description and think DH and I were in the same industry some time ago.
Don't quit but think laterally about moves that would let you use your knowledge and skills differently, while potentially giving you more time to be you. Plan your way out and work at it just like any other project. Get a career coach, maybe, to help you explore different avenues. Give yourself a year or 18 months to plan and execute your exit strategy. But do NOT quit outright without a plan B. Your savings will not last (you are too young to retire), your self-image will take a battering and your relationship will suffer... I have seen it happen too often.
I have some more specific suggestions, incl coaches, but they would out your industry, if I am right, which you clearly don't want. Feel free to PM if you like.

YoDiggity Sat 30-Nov-13 07:48:29

I'd leave. I agree, life's too short for crapola you don't need, when you can afford to walk away. It's easy enough to justify a long gap on your CV if you want to get back into the workplace later - you can just say you wanted to take a year or two's sabbatical and you were in a financial position to be able to do so, go travelling, concentrating on a big house refurb, whatever, just make something up. It will be much harder to explain away if you get sacked or demoted.

ReallyOverThis Sat 30-Nov-13 07:41:00

paxtecum it's a very important point. He certainly wouldn't want me to stay in a job that makes me unhappy, and he'd support me to leave with no job in place if I needed the headspace to decide what to do. However I would not expect him to support me and would still contribute exactly the same to our household, out of my savings. The crunch would come if he felt that meals out, holidays, activities etc were being limited because I was no longer willing to pay my half. I'd need to do some sums on that, but I wouldn't reach that point for a while as I have c 200k in savings of my own and my inheritance is enough to buy a house outright. So I'd basically treat the savings as income that was earned in advance.

Interestingly in his field he has potentially better opportunities for advancement if we move to another country, yet my job has been an obstacle to that. So it could be to his benefit, financially.

paxtecum Sat 30-Nov-13 06:42:32

OP: You haven't mentioned your DPs opinion.

When my cousin (divorced) met his new DP, he admired her work ethic and independence.
12 months later she ditched her job without consulting him and found a very part time job that paid minimum wage, so no longer contributed to any household bills.

Another 12 months on and they have split up.

raisah Fri 29-Nov-13 22:03:09

Could you become a Law lecturer instead? Lots of universities will start recruiting after Christmas for f/t positions. I would suggest that you apply to become a tutor taking a few tutorials a week to give you some breathing space. If you were interested in teaching & researching Law, pm me if you want more info.

With youe experience, you could use your knowledge in NGO's, government agencies, charities which would use your legal experience without burning you out.

JohnnyUtah Fri 29-Nov-13 17:06:21

I am/was a lawyer. I gave up when our children were upper junior school. DH earns £250-350k and we needed less stress and more time for the kids. The first year was great. After three years I was climbing the walls and I now work part time (not as a lawyer) and am happier. Be careful!

hillyhilly Fri 29-Nov-13 17:05:52

I am another who did it when I had children but you don't need that 'excuse', I have never been happier or healthier. I have a wide circle of friends and hobbies which I simply couldn't even consider when I worked. I have never regretted it and if I'm honest, I have no desire whatsoever to work again.
The only thing I would say is that it is easier to justify not working and also to make friends with other similar people when you have children so make sure that you get out there and be sociable.

SugarMiceInTheRain Fri 29-Nov-13 17:00:16

Hmmm, I'm generally of the opinion that life is too short to spend doing a job you hate, and I know some jobs just become insanely pressurised and that is no way to live. However one of DH's best friends was very high up in a large bank. He was finding it all too much, looked increasingly stressed etc so volunteered for redundancy at the first mention of it. However, going suddenly from being a high flyer to not having anything to get up for in the morning has had a horrible impact on him, and he hasn't worked since. He is seriously depressed and can rarely bring himself to meet up with us socially. So I would say don't do it without something else lined up, whether that is a less pressurised job, studying, retraining etc...

Pizdets Fri 29-Nov-13 16:02:54

Definitely go for it! I left my steady and successful career just over a year ago after we lost a pregnancy halfway through. My parents thought it was a knee-jerk and foolhardy decision but I think sometimes a loss can clarify what you want to get out of life and spur you to be brave in a way mundane life can't.

I took a few weeks to myself then did a bit of consulting and told myself I'd give it 6 months then see how I felt and maybe look for another permanent job - within a few months I was turning work down! I work the hours which suit me, walk the dog over lunch, meet with friends for lunches or coffee when I like and I earn as much as I did slogging my heart out and dealing with masses of internal politics and I am so much happier.

I'm on maternity leave now and it feels great to know I'll be able to work the hours which suit me once I decide to start again.

Based on what you said I can't see one good reason why you should stay, you're clearly clever and successful and have options open to you. If I were you I'd quit, take a long trip somewhere exciting then come back and do a little work to keep ticking over while you explore your options.

Tenacity Fri 29-Nov-13 15:25:28

Life is meant to be enjoyed. If the enjoyment goes, then it's mere existence.

OP it sound like you are in a better financial shape than most, and not needing to worry about staying on the hamster wheel.
I would say go for it!

MrsCliveStanden Fri 29-Nov-13 13:47:39

I did it! Was in a job that made me really unhappy, my mother had died about 6 months earlier, was mid 30's and just thought "there has to be more than this" handed in my notice then spent the next 6 months on a project/building own company type thing. Company was at launch stage when I found I was pregnant after ttc for many years. Fast forward to now, live overseas, unlikely to work anytime soon due to many factors. Never been happier.

My accountant gave up his very lucrative practice (if that's the correct phrase) to cultivate his orchard. Now supplies apples/apple crisps to major supermarkets. He too has never been happier. A the risk of sounding wankerish carpe diem!

Hogwash Fri 29-Nov-13 13:41:36

'possibly would enjoy being a law firm COO (a role traditionally filled by managing partners, usually long serving equity partners, but increasingly by financially-qualified non-lawyers). Or possibly something like Head of Training in a law firm.' That sounds perfect - no chargeable time pressure and a potentially easier worklife balance (? not sure about that bit - other partners would still put a lot of pressure on you). But, is there any way back into client work after that? Wouldn't that be the first role to change in cutbacks? Do you just need a lesser client role somewhere smaller?

Rhubarbgarden Fri 29-Nov-13 13:33:00

smile

YoungGirlGrowingOld Fri 29-Nov-13 12:50:37

ReallyOverThis

No advice and have not had time to read the whole thread, but I am in almost the same position (except currently in the run-up to partnership) - v similar age to you, no kids. My OH/Fiance is a NHS Consultant with a busy private practice and we never see each other. I am struggling with the workload and with the weight of everyone's expectations. I suspect I will fail to make partner and I think part of me will be relieved, although I am also concerned about disappointing my family.

My plan (although it remains to be seen whether I will have the balls to do it!) is to spend 6 months looking for a house for me and OH, and volunteering at a hospice I have some connections with. Even trying to arrange viewings and bank appointments is impossible for us at the moment. After that I plan to do contract work, e.g. in-house maternity covers. Hopefully my skills will be marketable and I can work more reasonable hours. It has just got to the point where, even with no kids, one of our careers has to take a back seat and I really, really want it to be mine!

In response to your OP, my heart says do what makes you happy but I know it's far more complicated than that and lawyers tend to be risk-averse and over-analytical, which makes it more difficult to throw caution to the wind. Either way, good luck - and I am going to read everyone's helpful responses later when I have more time!!

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